By Steve Lansdale
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In the case of Texas freshman Jarrett Allen, it wasn’t so much a case of if he would be drafted, but rather a matter of which team would select him.
The suspense ended for the Longhorns’ young center when the Brooklyn Nets chose him with the 22nd selection in the 2017 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center — the building that will be his home arena next season.
Yes, the Nets were atrocious last season — their 20-62 record was the league’s worst. But from an individual standpoint, Brooklyn is not a bad landing spot for Allen. He joins a team that needs help everywhere, including in the paint. Last year’s starting center, Brook Lopez, is gone after being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. But heading east in the deal is former Los Angeles center Timofey Mozgov, and considering he is due to receive at least $15 million in each of the next three seasons, it’s safe to assume that Mozgov has the inside track, at least initially, on the starting center job.
But after Mozgov, Allen will battle journeyman Justin Hamilton for minutes; Hamilton has averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in two NBA seasons.
Allen is a different kind of player than Mozgov and Hamilton. Listed at the draft at 6-10 and 235 pounds, he gives away two and three inches, and 20 and 40 pounds, respectively, to Hamilton and Mozgov. But Allen also is more of a modern post player in the sense that he is more comfortable facing the basket than his bigger teammates and can get out and run the floor. The most athletic of the three, Allen will have to fall back on that ability while he matures as a player and gets physically stronger.
In his only season at UT, Allen was the Longhorns’ second-leading scorer with an average of 13.4 points per game. His average of 8.4 rebounds per game was almost twice the average of any of his teammates, and his 51 blocked shots accounted more than one-third of the team’s total of 149.